Opposition leader Kem Sokha said told supporters in Koh Kong province this morning that any Cambodia National Rescue Party commune chiefs elected on June 4 who later turn out to be corrupt will be immediately replaced by the party.
A day after promising to fund each of the country’s more than 1,600 commune with half a million dollars a year to develop their areas if the CNRP wins in 2018, Sokha told supporters the party would take a zero-tolerance approach to abuse of power.
“If the commune chiefs of the Cambodia National Rescue Party make any decision that abuses the rights of the citizens, I, Kem Sokha, promise that we will change that commune chief out,” Sokha said.
“We want change, [so] we change what is bad and put in what is good. Other groups, our group, or any party, we change out what is bad. Anyone who is bad, change them out – not only the other parties.”
Just two months ago, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party had threatened legal action against the CNRP for using the slogan “Replace the commune chief who serves the party with a commune chief who serves the people”. The party was eventually forced to drop the slogan.
Yet CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the ruling party was not concerned that Sokha’s speech touched on the same themes of removing bad commune chiefs.
“Let the citizens decide. Who changes things or not is not up to slogans,” the CPP spokesman said. “To change or not is up to the will of the citizens.”
The commune council elections on June 4 come a year before national elections in July of 2018, and are widely viewed as a predictor of whether the opposition CNRP will be able to build on its surprise gains in the 2013 national polls.